Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Concerning The Hobbit

Note: Beyond the map below lie some spoilery thoughts on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. You’ve been warned.


Kelsey and I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Friday night. Tolkien’s prelude to The Lord of the Rings was one of the first chapter books I read to her, and she has been a fan of the Peter Jackson LOTR trilogy since she was about nine years old. She’s read The Hobbit at least once on her own since then, and we watch the extended cuts of the LOTR movies every December.

Point being, we were really looking forward to this new Hobbit.

And we both really enjoyed it: It was good to return to Jackson’s vision of Tolkien’s world, knowing that a new adventure was about to unfold. We both loved Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage makes a fine Thorin, and seeing Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee and Andy Serkis back in roles they truly own made the trip worthwhile. We opted for a standard 24 frames-per-second 2D screening, since neither of us are huge fans of live-action 3D (although Kels likes the Pixar 3D reissues like Finding Nemo), and I didn’t want to be distracted during my first viewing by thinking about the quality of the images or adjusting to the 3D process. (Yes, I’ve heard the 48 fps is pretty amazing, and that it only takes about 15 minutes to adjust. Even so, I didn’t want to spend the first quarter-hour of this return to Middle Earth thinking about frame rates. And now that I’ve seen it, I do plan to catch the 48 fps version in a couple weeks or so.)

So: Storytelling.

As someone who read The Hobbit many times growing up, I was excited to see the onscreen addition of story elements, characters, and locations which were only referenced in passing or happened “offstage” in the original book. Radagast the Brown, Dol Guldur and the Necromancer, and the home city of Thorin and Co. seen as a vibrant, living place were all fantastic.

Thing is, at times, all those extras which add heft to the bigger picture and tie it more closely to The Lord of the Rings do make for a bit of a disconnect with the lighter tone of Bilbo’s tale.

Oddly enough, though, the only time Kelsey and I thought the movie felt long was during the escape from the troll dungeons. Added moments that flesh out characters or the story are fine – but Peter Jackson could have easily cut several minutes from that action sequence. (In all fairness, I did just watch the 1977 Rankin-Bass Hobbitwhich, for its flaws, certainly wins in the economy of storytelling department.)

One small change from Tolkien’s source material that I really liked: In the book, the morning after the Unexpected Party, Gandalf shows up and essentially shoves Bilbo out the door to catch up with the dwarves. The movie makes this decision entirely Bilbo’s, and I love what that says about his character.

An Unexpected Journey didn’t knock the wind out of me the way The Fellowship of the Ring did, but then again, given the story differences and the audience familiarity with Jackson’s Middle Earth, I didn’t expect it to. But I was really entertained and surprisingly moved in a few spots.

And now I realize that a few years down the road, I’m going to have to start my Middle Earth holiday movie watching the week of Thanksgiving if it’s going to be done by New Year’s.

I’m not complaining.

December 17, 2012 - Posted by | Current Affairs, Film, geek | , , ,


  1. I concur. Although the slow part for me was just getting Bilbo out the door. I’m wondering if there is something near Hobbiton that slows down the pace, because it seemed to take just as long for Frodo to get on the boat at the end of LOTR.

    Although I would equally liked the film to stand on its own in a glorious 4-hour beginning-to-end movie, I am looking forward to seeing the Hobbit trilogy in proper chronological sequence with the LOTR trilogy. The added parts do make the planned six films (or more) a part of a continuous story in a way the books didn’t/couldn’t.

    I was also amazed at the themes and great lines that arose out of the film treatment that were suppressed in my past readings of the book. Honestly, I couldn’t tell what was in-book and what out, but I did feel a stronger connection to Bilbo’s sparing of Gollum and going in to help Thorin. And by hindsight, even the long deliberation of Bilbo in the beginning was a plus.

    That dwarven song has become a bit of an earwig, as I’m hearing it in my head everywhere I go.

    Comment by Kevin Makice | December 18, 2012 | Reply

    • I love that the dwarves’ song was incorporated into the score throughout, the way they did with theme from “Concerning Hobbits” in Fellowship of the Ring.

      Comment by jrbooth | December 18, 2012 | Reply

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